Translation by me of an Svenska Dagbladet article and interview by Omar Magnergård, published on 26 August on the occasion of Princess Lilian's 90th birthday. This article is not available as a link from SVD, but only PDF which I don't know how to link too, but you can find it under 26 August on this site.
Lilian is always ’on the go’
After three weeks with the Royal Family at Solliden, Princess Lilian is ‘on the go’ again. Flamenco festival at the House of Dance, smoking dinner at Nalen this past Wednesday where she awarded The Smile Prize to Sven Tumba, to Arlanda Airport on Saturday to meet her cousin Jean Beaumond, her only living relative, clothes designer Yuki, and a couple of other invitees to the birthday party.
- What it is and will happen, I have no idea about. Even Queen Silvia, whom I have daily contact with, is silent like a clam.
In her next breath, the Princess explains that she doesn’t wish for any present for her personally.
- I have most things. If someone on the other hand would like to give a little to SOS Children’s Villages, I would be happy.
She is their protector. For her 85th birthday, large sums came in to the organisation. Right now a Children’s Village is built in Ukraine. A project that takes up large amounts of money.
The day after the 90th birthday on Tuesday, there are no events on the schedule. But on Thursday the Norwegian Royal and Crown Princely Couple will arrive for a two-day visit. Then it’s time to be out and about again.
How does she have the energy?
- I think that the work – and laughter – keeps me somewhat young at mind. I don’t do gymnastics or exercise. But I do feel the same wish to help as my husband did.
She admits that she sometimes gets to hear that she should cut back on her commitments.
- And do what,
she counters. Sit at home and roll the thumbs? Someone has to ‘look after the shop’. That’s how it is. And how many people can get a job at my age?
Her mother dies relatively young; no other relatives have reached her age.
- I do wonder where I go my genes.
She is smartly elegant, keen on clothes and style, almost always wears high heels, is friendly, talkative, often self ironic. She shows old cuttings, points at framed pictures of the royal children with written greetings, rejoices in the amount of white orchids in almost every room. She lives with her memories here in Villa Solbacken. But it doesn’t take over everyday life. She is too active to let that happened. She has her friends, and, as she says, her three “completely lovely nurses”. They take turns in living with her. This is after something that happened two and a half years ago.
The Princess had a cold, got pneumonia and slept and slept.
- When I woke up, Carl Gustaf, Silvia and the children stood at the bed, all deeply solemn. How dumb I felt. The Queen made sure that from that day on, that living alone was over for me.
- She is the most caring person I know. We are like two sisters. Friends wonder if I feel like a mother for Silvia. It is the opposite.
The Princess reads Swedish newspapers, watches Swedish television and copes with out language.
- When I have too, yes. My Swedish vocabulary is neither big nor perfect. In my circle, both with friends and the Royal Family, we always speak English. For me Swedish is a difficult language. Now it might be too late for language lessons.
The whole time during our conversation, Labrador Bingo is around her. He follows Lilian when we watch the roses in the garden, lies at her feet when she reads or watches TV, has his own “corner” with toys, and lets himself be spoiled with both English scones and Swedish cake on the plate.
Princess Lilian got him as a puppy from the Royal Couple the summer after Prince Bertil’s death.
- I have said it before, and gladly repeat it – a better and more loving company than a dog for a person who has become lonely is not possible to find.
She says that she feels alert, “not a day older than 80”, that she is continuously curious at life and that she wants to live for a long time yet. But she is not afraid to die.
- It is something natural. And I know that I will rest next to my beloved husband at Haga.
She was there last week, as usual put down little love notes and is glad that the grave is kept so nice.
- But of course, it feels enormously lonely out there,
she confesses. Not a day passes without me thinking of Bertil.
Before we part, the Princess asks to thank the Swedish people in this way.
- You have received me, and do receive me, with such kindness. Wherever I go, people come up to me and say how much they appreciated Prince Bertil. Often I get to hear that I do a good job. Such things warms in an old hear, I assure you.
Picture from Svenska Dagbladet.